How to buy insurance using comparison sites

You could make big savings on insurance by using price comparison websites, so it’s worth putting in a bit of time to get the best out of them. Remember they’re just showing you prices, not choosing the best product – you don’t have to pick the top result.

The golden rules for using comparison sites

Always check more than one site

Different insurance companies appear on different comparison sites. No one website can get you quotes from every single insurance company, and some big insurers, such as Direct Line, don’t appear on comparison sites at all.

Know how they make their money

Comparison websites do not sell products themselves, they show you details and prices from insurers and make their money in a number of ways:

  • from ‘click-throughs’ where the site earns commission when a customer clicks through to the insurer’s website and buys a product
  • they get paid from advertising which appears on their site
  • some sites earn money from sponsored listings, where companies pay to have their products appear at the top of the search results

Cheapest isn’t always best

Be wise to the fact that comparison sites will try to hook you in by showing you lots of low prices. Remember that the cheapest insurance policies may not be such great value – they might have a high excess or not the right cover for what you want.

If you do select a product from a price comparison website you will normally click through to an insurance provider’s website to complete the purchase. At this point certain insurance providers will look to sell you additional products (add-ons). Before you purchase additional products you should consider whether you need them and the price (as there will be alternatives).

First isn’t always best either…

Comparison sites do not give ‘regulated advice’. That means they provide you with product information but not whether a policy has the type and level of cover suitable for your needs. So, don’t assume the first result is the best.

They’re not usually suitable for complex insurance

Many of the insurance policies featured on comparison sites are ‘standard products’ and won’t necessarily take your personal circumstances and needs into account.

Because they don’t give advice, you may have questions about unusual home, property or belongings to insure that comparison websites can’t answer.

For more complex insurance such as income protection, critical illness or private medical insurance it’s also a good idea to discuss the different types of insurance available so you can be sure you choose a policy best suited to your needs.

If this is the case, you can speak directly to the insurance company or an independent financial adviser or broker who will be able to advise you.

How to use comparison sites

Step 1 – Work out what policy and cover you need

Use comparison sites to get quotes, not to judge the quality of a policy. Once you know the kind of insurance policy and level of cover you’re looking for, you’ll be able to use comparison sites to help you get a good deal.

Step 2 – Pay attention to which answers are pre-filled

Insurance is complex and relies on many details that are specific to you, but comparison sites often make assumptions so they can make the process simpler for you. They sometimes use pre-filled answers to give you a standard set of results.

The policies they suggest might not be suitable if you have any non-standard requirements – for example if your house has a thatched roof or you’re over or under a certain age – so check all the questions have been answered correctly. You must make sure the details are right or you might not be covered if you need to make a claim.

Step 3 – Use more than one comparison site

Comparison websites cover different providers and products – remember not all providers appear on comparison sites. The Money Saving Expert website has done some research on which sites to use and in what order:

Step 4 – Don’t get spammed

Top tip

Use a different email address when getting comparison site quotes – that way your inbox won’t fill up with junk mail. Just remember if you do take out a policy your insurer will need to email you to confirm cover, policy schedule and wording and send out renewal notices.

It’s up to you to opt out of email and other marketing by making sure you tick or un-tick the relevant boxes. If you don’t you could get both marketing emails and phone calls, so read everything carefully.

Step 5 – Always check before you buy

When you are transferred from the comparison site to the insurer’s site it is essential that you check all the information is correct. If you don’t do this and incorrect information has been given to the insurer you may end up paying for invalid insurance.

Finally, always read the documentation before you buy a policy. If the documents aren’t available on the comparison site, click through to the insurance company’s own website to find and read the documents. If you can’t find them, don’t buy the policy. You need to make sure it will actually cover you if you need to claim.

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